Separating cytokine twins with a small molecule.
J Biol Chem. 2019 Dec 6;294(49):18532-18533. doi: 10.1074/jbc.H119.011749.
The cytokine macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) has been characterized as a key immunomodulator and mediator of various diseases. Small molecule inhibitors based on the conserved enzymatic pocket of MIF have been valuable in elucidating MIF mechanisms and developing translational strategies. In contrast, our mechanistic understanding of the MIF homolog MIF-2/d-dopachrome tautomerase (d-DT) and its clinical translation has been hampered, partly because MIF-2–selective inhibitors have been elusive. Here, Tilstam et al. characterize a small-molecule inhibitor selective for MIF-2 that interferes with receptor binding and cell signaling. That could be a promising therapeutic lead and a valuable research tool.